Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/ Gentlemen of the Road – St. Augustine, Florida – Concert Review


Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes in St. Augustine (Photo: Ivan Correa)

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes / Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival Review

I started writing this last night and without even realizing it I was getting too personal, too wordy, telling you guys too much about my love affair and history with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. While it may have made for a pretty interesting story once finished, I doubt that you’d like to sit here and read about Iowa cornfields, snow in Wisconsin, and the way that their song “Home” has finally come full circle and how I finally felt at home back in the Sunshine State, singing and sweating and dancing with 35,000 complete strangers.

Long story short, I heard about this festival stop back in the spring when I was still in the Mid-West. I dismissed it as a pipe dream, but once I found myself back in Florida, writing reviews for this online publication, it suddenly became much more real. I asked Cretin about it, and he sent out the necessary carrier pigeons to promoters and managers to obtain the needed press credentials. Apparently, we got blown off by the festival organizers but the lovely people within the Edward Sharpe camp deemed us worthy and I was granted a couple of guest passes and a photo pass. My talented big brother, Ivan, agreed to shoot photos for me and we were off.

To quote Michael, the owner of the Shell Shop on St. George Street “This whole event has been over-engineered. Those people out there on US 1? [expletive deleted]. [expletive deleted] charging $50 for parking.” Turns out, the joke was on the people selling the overpriced parking. Michael was right. I had expected a traffic-jam the likes of which this city has seldom, if ever, seen. I walked from the corner of West King and US 1 and the traffic was comparable to a regular Sunday morning’s. Everyone had been so afraid to approach the downtown area with a vehicle that nobody did. Charter buses brought in attendees from the airport and amphitheater park-and-rides. Velo Fest did a wonderful job accommodating the cyclists. The valet parking for bikes was 150 yards from the festival entrance, it was FREE, and they even gave you a red LED light so you were safe and legal riding home in the dark.

Gentlemen of the Road flags lined the walkway to the entrance and I imagine everyone had a very regal feeling as they approached in the hot afternoon sun. Security seemed pretty lax, only taking a cursory glance inside my brother’s camera bag on the first day. I had a backpack with me on day two which contained a birthday present for a friend I was hoping to run into, wrapped in newspaper, and even then, there were no questions.

We got in, took a look around and found a snug spot, first row, to the left of the stage. Willy Mason was playing and while I do regret not paying closer attention to his set because it sounded great, I was still too busy taking in the sights and sounds of the festival. Beers were $10, burgers were $10. I don’t think that the price tag was intended to be a deterrent from over-consumption, it probably worked that way. Never before in my life have I seen so many people be so well behaved. There were old hippies, moms and dads, tweens, college freshman, yuppies, and obvious St. Augustine tourists who somehow found a ticket. I spent a good deal of time watching the different types of people and their reactions. The funniest was from what we decided must be the youngest attendee, a red-headed toddler girl that had the giggles that would not stop while she bounced on her dad’s shoulders as Thao & The Get Down Stay Down appeared on the big-screen monitor behind them.

Let me talk a little bit about Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. I have been shallow enough in the past to simply dismiss a band for a dumb name, or simply because the name was a mouthful to say. I don’t think I will ever let this happen again. Thao, the front-woman, came out like a raging bull. Exuding sexuality and confidence, she reminded me of a slightly more reserved Karen O, but that could be because her movement was inhibited by her need to play her guitar/banjo. The crowd was very receptive as they blew through their set list, bringing it to a fevered frenzy as they ended on a song that included a well-known Ludacris verse. Satisfied and happy, the crowd cheered for the San Francisco natives as they left the stage. Already, the feeling of unity and love was permeating the festival.

The Walkmen came on next. Front-man Hamilton Leithauser seems like a very intense individual. Dressed like he just left his job at a busy law firm, he rolled up his sleeves, told a short story about how he missed his flight to their last scheduled show in St. Augustine, and thanked the crowd for letting him come back to try again. Same as the band before them, they breezed through their set-list with very little interlude. Not knowing too many of their songs, I still found the experience extremely entertaining and was able to sing along with the crowd favorite “The Rat”. Leithauser alternated between walking the stage with his mic, and playing guitar, even dropping the tempo way, way down for a song that I’ve been unable to identify, that featured only his vocals and guitar. The Walkmen were granted raucous applause as they left the stage and I think it’s fair to say that they are welcome back in St. Augustine any time.

The crowd buzzed in quiet anticipation as the stage crew set up instrument after instrument. The pleasant September breeze played a big role in the well-being of the audience, I think.  Hydration levels were up, tempers were level, and the good spirit and fellowship of the crowd was palpable. Alex Ebert appeared on stage, and the crowd was taken with minor confusion. Donning a red coat, he gave a brief explanation that the rest of the band was still getting ready and that he’d like to show us a video that they had shot in New York City, but had just finished editing that morning. The video, for “Life Is Hard”, came on the two large displays that flanked the stage and everyone watched quietly, mesmerized. The video was beautiful and really showed a soulful side to the band that I had not seen, yet. Alex sat quietly on the stage and watched us as we watched him and Jade in the video.

It did not take long after that for the rest of the band to appear.  Jade, who was clearly the crowd’s favorite, was dressed is a flowing, vintage, white gown. Her hair was much longer than I’d seen it in videos and she looked radiant. Alex discarded his red jacket after the first song, and sat down on the front monitor as the band let a G chord ring out for what seemed like two or three minutes. We all knew what song was coming but when the words left Alex’s mouth, the crowd erupted into a giant, singing mass. “I’m a man on fire, walking through your street, with one guitar and two dancing feet.” If I had not been positioned in front of one of the speaker stacks, I think the crowd would have easily drowned out Alex’s singing.

Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes in St. Augustine (Photo: Ivan Correa)

Alex literally bounced through the set. Dancing and kicking and spinning, there were a few times that I thought he was going to have a nasty fall off the stage onto the the tracks that were used for the festival cameras. He found joy in crowd interactions, letting people in the front row pick at least half of the songs for their set. “Up From Below,” “Janglin’,” “40 Day Dream,” “That’s What’s Up,” and plenty of songs from their recently released 3rd album that I’m not extremely familiar with were all covered. He even took the time to let a few fans say some words into the microphone and they generally related to what an inspiration the band had been to them, or how the band had helped them find a way to come to terms with their spirituality. Jade alternated between singing side by side with Alex, and sitting down to play what appeared to be a piano, but was possibly an organ. She conversed with one of the guitar players during lulls in the music, and it showed how relaxed and familiar they were with their extensive group of band mates. Alex got the rest of the band involved by having the crowd point out members to sing the next verse. It was obvious before that they were all talented, but now it was confirmed that they were all incredible singers, as well.

The second to last song that was performed was “Home” and it was a strange affair. He spoke solemnly in between verses about what a great audience we were, and how great the tour was. He said repeatedly that he would miss us and how he was sad that they wouldn’t be there tomorrow to hang out with us. It was a strange insight into the man’s brain, that he could write a song like “Home” while being in a touring band. The chorus, bitter-sweet, says it all: “Home is Wherever I’m With You.”

The crowd began to disperse and about half went toward the charter buses, a quarter headed downtown to do god knows what, and the rest disappeared into the darkened neighborhoods adjacent to Francis Field. I had difficulty tracking down my photographer/brother as both of our phones had died. We eventually found each other on a nearly pitch black West Castillo, and went off to figure out how the hell we were going to get home. We managed to turn a fellow attendee into a taxi as we procured a ride from him while he was stopped at the red light at West King. Thank you stranger!

Check out more Photos of Edward Sharpe & The Magentic Zeroes and other festival shots here: Gentlemen of the Road Photos

Elated from the first night of the festival I stayed up extremely late looking through pictures of the festival on the camera and others’ on Instagram. A gigantic thank you to Alexander, Jade, and the rest of the Magnetic Zeros for their love and inspiration. Thank you to Phoebe at BB Gun Press for allowing me the opportunity to witness this event. Thank you to Ivan for taking the photos.

Day two started slowly for me after staying up so late the night before. I could hear the bands begin to play as I sat on my balcony across Oyster Creek from Francis Field, and it came to my attention that an act had been confirmed to replace Fun., since they had to cancel due to illness. John Fogerty was called upon, and answered, making the flight to St. Augustine from Los Angeles overnight. By the time I got down there and parked my bike at the Velo Fest area, he was already knee-deep in his set. Fogerty was being backed up by at least Marcus Mumford, but the crowd seemed so much more dense on the second day that I couldn’t get within 75 feet of the stage to see who the other players were. He romped through just about every Credence Clearwater Revival song that I knew, and the crowd sang every song word for word. As he began “Born On A Bayou” the gentleman in front of me, clearly enamored and intoxicated, asked his friend at least three or four times “How freakin’ awesome is this?!” I couldn’t have agreed more. His set concluded as the first bolts of lightning could be seen in the diminishing daylight of the western sky.

Night took hold of Francis Field as Mumford & Sons took the stage and launched full steam ahead into one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  The lighting, the crowd, and the intensity of the band created a surreal experience that was capped off by the impending storm. They burned through their set, playing an equal number of songs from Sigh No More and Babel. When the fierce rhythm of “Little Lion Man” began the crowd detonated. The storm got closer and closer but did not open up on us. Marcus trooped back and forth from his front-stage mic, to his mic behind the drum kit. Late in the show, they even dropped the instruments and gathered around a single mic, center stage, for an acapella song.

I leaned against a barrier, off to the side, and watched couples dance together as “Lover Of The Light” played. The breeze shifted the Spanish moss above my head as it dangled from the trees. I watched in awe at the scene; thousands and thousands of fans coming together in such tranquility. I had met folks from as far away as New York City, South Carolina, Tennessee, and as close as Daytona Beach and Lake City. Marcus made the mistake of acknowledging a Union Jack flag that someone was holding up in the audience and in response to his feeble attempt to start a “U.K! U.K!” chant he was quickly beaten back with “USA! USA! USA!”. It was all in good fun and he went on to say that they enjoyed Florida very much. Shortly thereafter, he brought out members of The Vaccines for a cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” They ended with an exceptionally energetic rendition of “The Cave” and said goodnight. At this point, it seemed that no one remembered that Yacht Club DJs were still performing after that, and the vast majority of the crowd headed for the exit and home.

I collected my bicycle from the valet, and while riding down a side street I got a flat tire. I had to walk the few miles to my house on the other side of the water, but, you know what? I wasn’t even mad. The experience of the weekend had instilled such a deep sense of elation, and beyond that, a reaffirmation of the goodness of humankind that not even walking on my sore, swollen feet for miles could upset me. The festival had been more than a concert experience for me. It had been a refresher course in basic happiness and the love and freedom that can be found in communal revelry. To Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, to Mumford & Sons, to Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, to John Fogerty, to The Walkmen, to Willy Mason, to the bands that I am sorry I missed, you are all truly Gentlemen (and Ladies) of the Road, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for bringing your message of love and familial inclusion to our small town. Our home is now your home and you are welcome, anytime.

– Broken Birdie –

Check out more Photos of Edward Sharpe & The Magentic Zeroes and other festival shots here: Gentlemen of the Road Photos


Brooklyn’s Hank & Cupcakes gets everybody jumping in Jacksonville!


Hank & Cupcakes
Hank & Cupcakes – photo Leon Jonjock

Hank & Cupcakes Jacksonville Show Review

Another great show at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, Florida – this time the techno rock stylings of Hank & Cupcakes.

Hank & Cupcakes
Hank & Cupcakes – photo Leon Jonjock

I was impressed with this group. They stood out over the other three 3 bands I was there to review; hard to believe these artists are only a duo! Only two of them, but the most exciting music I have ever heard. – I was amazed at the way they performed together with so much love and happiness for each other.  It was exciting to see and hear – this duo stealing the show and dominating the audience’s attention.

They commanded everyone’s attention – with cool hip bass pounding beats – and a girl who loved to beat those drums! Their formula works, and had everybody in the house very happy, very quickly.

Last August, Hank & Cupcakes recorded their album with Swedish producer Ludwig Boss- at the famous Hansa Studios in Berlin, where landmark records from U2, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, R.E.M. & many more were made.

They released 5 song EP, Ain’t No Love late last year; and the subsequent debut album, Naked was released in July and is definitely worth a listen.  I have listened to the EP – Mp3 set on my headphones every day since the show – and I am a happy man! Grab their EP MP3 online somewhere and enjoy this music man ! Check it out here: Ain’t No Love – Single – Hank & Cupcakes

Thanks to Jack Rabbits – for another great show – they always bring the best in talent when booking.

And be on the lookout for another cool concert review from HappyJack!  Until then , take care , and keep Rarsafarm.com as a favorite on your toolbar !

Happy Jack
See more photos from the show here: RARA’s Farm’s Facebook

Psychic Friend – My Rocks Are Dreams – Album Review


Psychic Friend Album Cover
Psychic Friend Album Cover

Psychic Dreams Album Review

Don’t ask me how it happened, because I’m not sure.  I downloaded this album and when I put it on my phone to listen to it, the tracks got loaded in reverse order.  I didn’t notice until after about four days of listening to it.  Well, guess what? I listened to it in correct order and it didn’t really matter.

My Rocks Are Dreams is a pretty damned good record throughout, with none of the tracks falling flat.  Starting off with a simple, but effective piano intro on “We Do Not Belong”, it soon jumps full-steam into melodic pop goodness.  Will Schwartz, of Imperial Teen fame, has crafted some of the best pop songs I’ve heard in a while.  They are not sugary, but they will get stuck in your head for days.  His lyrics are sincere, but never seem to approach melancholy.  Sounding a bit like John Samson of The Weakerthans, his voice could possibly be abrasive to some, but sweet and melodic to others.  It adds a unique element to the songs, and in all seriousness, I believe it’s one of the most defining characteristics of Psychic Friend.  The drumming is flawless, and the arrangements usually include piano or synth, and guitar.

I like to imagine that Mr. Schwartz was writing songs with the hipster that wouldn’t leave his bar-stool in mind.  “We Do Not Belong” would certainly be the one to make you forget about getting your brand new tennies scuffed on the dance floor, and if the original wasn’t enough, the remix by Gliss will surely make it impossible to sit still.  Also included is a remix of “Once A Servant” by YACHT.  It is unclear whether these remixes were commissioned, or offered to Schwartz for inclusion in the album, but they are welcome none-the-less.  Side note: My brother saw YACHT open for the Postal Service in Las Vegas and said that they were more entertaining than the headliner.

If you’re unfamiliar with Imperial Teen, like I was before listening to Psychic Friend, then it seems to be common knowledge that Mr. Schwartz is gay.  I wasn’t even going to mention it, but the information I read when receiving the music made a point of mentioning it.  My point is that had I not been privy to that information, it probably would have never crossed my mind.  The songs are sometimes about love, but love as a nameless, faceless template for you to insert yourself into.

The write-up also indicated that it would be an album full of super-catchy, fun pop songs, and those are the only four words that needed to be said to make my ears perk up.  Indeed, My Rocks Are Dreams is a well crafted album, full to the brim with dance-ables, whether you are at a cool club or just want to slow-dance with the one you love in your living room, Psychic Friend has got you covered.

Check out the album on iTunes: My Rocks Are Dreams – Psychic Friend

Broken Birdie

Glasvegas Returns to Roots


Glasvegas Album Cover
Glasvegas Album Cover

Glasvegas Album Review

After smashing onto the alternative rock scene with 2008’s fantastic debut album and grabbing the rock universe by the jugular, they almost as quickly disappeared from the landscape with the disappointing and erratic follow-up Euphoric Heartbreak. Fortunately, on  Later…When The TV Turns To Static, we hear the Glasgow natives back in the dark, tumultuous plane that brings such joy to our ears.

The band’s name, Glasvegas sounds like a combination of their home town of Glasgow and Las Vegas and stretching that connection, I can see similarities with the music of two stalwarts artists from those cities, Simple Minds and The Killers.  Glasvegas offers the same lush arrangements and fantastically layered songs which serve as the ideal backdrop for superb, distinctive vocals.

James Allan is the band’s primary songwriter and lead vocalist. His soul wrenching vocals are the constant highlight across the ten tracks of  Later…When The TV Turns To Static. The album, produced by Allan, is nicely orchestrated and not simply a collection of ten good songs. Listening to the tracks, I’m not sure there’s any one track with the same commercial appeal as their 2008 hit single, “Geraldine,” but the album does not have a weak offering.

It’s an album that quite frankly is probably best listened to on a nice stereo, speakers cranked, while sipping a glass of Glenmorangie 18 Years Old. It’s just one of those albums. The songs are all incredibly creative; often featuring dark introspective lyrics, typically enveloped in lush optimistic musical landscapes.  It’s quite refreshing, and quite good.

The band’s first single from the album is the captivating “If.” It’s a great glimpse into what you’re going to find throughout the album. Heart pounding drums, killer guitar licks and Allan’s pristine vocals and thought-provoking lyrics: “If not for fear, hope is nowhere near…”

Other highlights from the album include the stirring “All I Want is My Baby,” where we hear Allan lament “It’s All About the Money, I hope it makes you happy,” as he laments about the travails of a man dealing with the challenges of child support. “Secret Truth offers a hypnotic, trance-like guitar from James Allan’s brother Rab which briefly steals the spotlight.  “I’d rather Be Dead Than Be With You,” features stirringly exposed vocals from James Allan accompanied by a perfectly arranged haunting piano duet.

Grab the album on iTunes beginning September 3rd here: Later…When the Tv Turns to Static (Deluxe Edition) – Glasvegas

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Rock On!
Cretin

 


Central Florida September Rock Concert Calendar


Central Florida Rock Concert Calendar

Labor Day Weekend is pretty much a dud, but the month really picks up with a slew of great shows all over the Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa areas. RARA’s Farm’s favorite live band comes to the Plaza in Orlando, and there’s a killer festival in St. Augustine with one of the most creative line-ups all year.

Orlando

9/01 – Robbie Krieger, Plaza Live. Yup, the Doors guitarist is on the road again.

9/06 – Switchfoot, Universal Studios. Rock The Universe.
9/06 – The Supervillains, Jesse’s (Winter Haven)

9/07 – Blue October, House of Blues
9/07 – Casting Crowns and Relient K, Universal Studios. Rock The Universe.

9/08 – Rancid, House of Blues. Always a great show for punk rock fans.

9/10 – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Hard Rock Live

9/11 – Steely Dan, Hard Rock Live

9/12 – Pepper, House of Blues. Read RARA’s Farm’s review of the bands latest album: Album Review

9/13 – The Vaccines, The Social. These English Alt-Rockers have a cool garage rock vibe and this is the one show this month we don’t want to miss.
9/13 – Joe Satriani and Steve Morse Band, Hard Rock Live

9/16 – Hunter Valentine and Girl In A Coma, Wooten Park (Tavares) – All Girl rock band that absolutely rocks. Check out our review of Hunter Valentine’s last album: Album Review
9/16 – Title Fight, BackBooth

9/17 – Matisyahu, Hard Rock Live

9/18 – Stone Temple Pilots and Filter, House of Blues. This show is absolutely intriguing. STP has jettisoned  the troublesome Scott Weiland and brought in Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. And, Filter is a fantastic bonus for an opener.  Don’t miss this one.

9/19 – Fun. with Tegan and Sara, UCF Arena. Nice double bill at UCF.  We loved Fun. at last year’s Big Ticket: Festival Review and Fun. photos.

9/21 – Eddie Money, Downtown Orlando. The latest installment of WMMO’s Downtown Concert Series. Free classic rock ‘n roll!

9/22 – Yellowcard, House of Blues. Check out our review of their excellent show last year: Yellowacard Rocks HOB

9/23 – Imagine Dragons, Paper Route and The Neighborhood, UCF Arena. Imagine Dragons is the big draw, but The Neighborhood is a big appeal for us.

9/24 – Alt-J, House of Blues

9/25 – Colin Hay, Plaza Live. The front man from Men At Work from the land down under…

9/26 – Cowboy Mouth, Plaza Live. The unofficial band of RARA’s FARM – we all love Cowboy Mouth, because they put on the becy live shows on the planet.  Come join us for our annual dose of Fred LeBlanc, JTG, and their unique blend of rock ‘n roll. Here’s a glimpse inside the head of front man Fred Leblanc.
9/26 – Ra Ra Riot, The Social. If not for Cowboy Mouth playing down the street, this would be the place to be.
9/26 – Brett Michaels, Hard Rock Hotel’s Velvet Sessions

9/27 to 9/29 – Starship Feat. Mickey Thomas, Epcot Center. Still a great performer with a catalog worthy of his stellar voice. Want to get an idea of what you’re in store for? Check out our show review.

9/28 – L.A. Guns Feat. Steve Riley and Phil Lewis, Green Parrot (Casselberry)

9/29 – Enter The Haggis, The Social. A unique blend of Indie/Folk rock.

Cheap concert tickets

Jacksonville

9/06 – Black Flag, The Roc Bar. Four decades of thrash from this prolific hardcore punk band.

9/08 – Steely Dan, St. Augustine Amphitheatre

0/13 – The Supervillains, The Standard (St. Augustine)

9/13 to 9/14 – Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Francis Field (St. Augustine). Cool festival with a limited run across the country. This stop includes Fun. and The Vaccines. Check out their website for details.

9/18 – Title Fight, The Roc Bar.

9/26 – Colin Hay, Ponte Vedra Music Hall
9/26 – Enter The Haggis. Cafe Eleven (St. Augustine)
9/26 – Rick Springfield, Florida Theatre. Cretin just read his autobiography.  Definitely a recommended read…

9/30 – Sick Puppies, Redlight King, Charming Liars, Freebird Live

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Cheap concert tickets

Tampa Area

9/01 – Eddie Money, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

9/06 – Blue October, Jannus Live (Saint Petersburg)
9/06 – The Supervillains, Jesse’s (Winter Haven)

9/07 – Authority Zero, Ruth Eckerd Music Hall (Clearwater)
9/07 – John Mayer and Philip Phillips, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
9/07 – Rancid, Jannus Live (Saint Petersburg)

9/11 – Joe Satriani and Steve Morse Band, Ruth Eckerd Music Hall (Clearwater)
9/11 – Pepper, Jannus Live (Saint Petersburg)

9/12 – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Jannus Live (Saint Petersburg)
9/12 – Matt Pond, New World Brewery

9/13 – Pet Shop Boys, Mahaffey Theater
9/13 – Rick Springfield, Ruth Eckerd Hall(Clearwater)

9/14 – Depeche Mode, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre – the only area appearance for these stalwarts of new wave…
9/14 – Steely Dan, Ruth Eckerd Hall (Clearwater)

9/15 – Kid Rock, ZZ Top and Uncle Cracker, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Great triple bill – all three acts put on excellent shows.

9/24 – Colin Hay, The Largo Cultural Center
9/24 – Imagine Dragons, Paper Route and The Neighborhood, USF Sun Dome. Imagine Dragons is the big draw, but The Neighborhood is a big appeal for us.
9/24 – Ra Ra Riot, Orpheum

9/26 – Blues Traveler, Floyd’s at Hard Rock Casino
9/26 – O’Brother, Crowbar

9/27 – Enter The Haggis, Skipper’s Steakhouse

9/28 – Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck, Ruth Eckerd Music Hall (Clearwater). The legendary mind behind the original Beach Boys, paired with Jeff Beck!

9/29 – Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and Twenty One Pilots, USF Sun Dome. This is just a killer line-up. Three phenomenal live acts.

 

 


Black Sabbath – 13


Black Sabbath – 13 Album Review

Black Sabbath haven’t made original music with the original line up in quite some time, but, in all honesty, they never went away; given that their pioneering metal sludge influence can be heard from bands as diverse as Slayer to Queens of the Stone Age to Black Flag.

43 years after their first record together, 1970’s Black Sabbath, the lineup, sans drummer Bill Ward, sounds as fresh as the first devilish chord from Tony Iommi’s guitar. 13 is a triumphant return for Sabbath. Mega-producer Rick Rubin has a knack for taking hugely popular artists back to their roots, see Metallica’s Death Magnetic, or the slew of later Johnny Cash records, and this record follows that formula.

13 sounds like it’s 1971…before all the drugs, band member arguments, and eventual firing of Ozzy. These are three guys from Birmingham, trying to make music that sounded like the factories they all worked in. The sound of metal…..heavy metal… The record begins with the obvious tongue in cheek title of “End of the Beginning” where Ozzy asks the question; “Is this the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?” The song is one of the best on the record and offers the listener the signature Sabbath bluesy, thud omelette with time change half way through.

“God is Dead,” the first single from the album, offers more of the thunder cloud heaviness. The mellow, congo-infused, “Zeitgeist” is reminiscent of the classic “Planet Caravan.” Ozzy’s voice, for all the abuse it has taken over the years, adds dimension to the song, even if he struggles to reach the higher ranges, we all know what he is capable of. The song also casts light on Tony Iommi and his guitar playing. Iommi is often left off of the list of greatest axe men, but here his solos flow effortlessly over Geezer Butler’s melodic bass. Arguably the best track on 13 is “Age of Reason”, a 7 minute ditty that combines all the things we love about Sabbath including the aforementioned guitar work -listen to the last two minutes- as well as blistering drums courtesy of Rage Against the Machine’s, Brad Wilk.

With that being said, the trite “Live Forever” is a low point on a record that offers the listener a batch of Sabbath songs that hold their own against their classics. Die-hards will complain about over-production and a newer sound, but for guys that are all in their mid-60’s, and trying to live up to their moniker, 13 is a strong effort.

Mayor Peach

Underground Lovers – Weekend – Album Review


Underground Lovers – Weekend Album Review

This is all speculation, but after listening to Weekend, by Underground Lovers, I think I have an idea from where their name was derived.  Are they big fans of The Velvet Underground? I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to them. The music would imply as much.

Underground Lovers are the illegitimate child of Nico and Thurston Moore, caught between two worlds.  One of post-hippy, art-centric, weirdo goodness, and the other of, uhh… post-disco, art-centric, weirdo goodness.  Either way, this album will take you to the once-dangerous streets of New York City, but when you land there is a matter of your interpretation.  In 1964 a young Lou Reed and John Cale are hustling the East Village art scene, trying to get their band, the Velvet Underground, started.  Meanwhile, down the street, a 6 year old Thurston Moore is taking notes and waiting patiently for 1981 and his turn to come.

Weekend starts off slowly with “Spaces” which is a relaxed number that induces a spaced-out frame of mind.  I pictured myself opening all of the windows in the house and just wandering from room to room, aimlessly, in a trance-like state until the song was over.  Not many songs I encounter create such a vivid idea in my head.  Following that, the band kicks up the tempo on “Can For Now,” which, on first listen, made me play “Teenage Riot” by Sonic Youth just to make sure that copyright laws weren’t being trampled.  Honestly, they don’t sound too incredibly similar, but the guitar tone and tempo certainly seem borrowed.

“Dream To Me” brings the tempo down again, and is a sweet jaunt in the park, hand-in-hand on a Sunday afternoon with a Korg keyboard and what sounds like a flute. Then you realize that there’s a a shadowy over-driven guitar following you in the shadows and get nervous, until you realize he just needs directions to the bus station and all ends serenely. Some of the songs are danceable, which is always a plus. Electronic elements are scattered throughout the record, but, in my opinion, often under-utilized.

The band had not played together since the 90’s when they got together in 2010 for a live performance at Homebake. They were reportedly well-received and it’s not surprising considering that this style (especially of the two bands I’ve beaten to death comparing them to) is rarely emulated, and has come full circle to sound fresh again. It’s a good record through and through, it just seems a bit dated, which is not always a bad thing.

Sounding a bit, also, like Yo La Tengo, and even sometimes, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, it hearkens back to a simpler time in music when artists knew how to rock AND roll. They weren’t just interested in screaming the loudest, playing the fastest, or being the most controversial.

If you’re looking for something cool that you can enjoy and will probably confuse, and intrigue your friends, give a spin.

Standout tracks include the aforementioned “Can For Now,” “Signs of Weakness” and “Au Pair.” I didn’t have a chance to try it but I bet this album will sound great turned all the way up on a good car stereo. That’s just an opinion, and we can not be held liable for blown car speakers. Rock at your own risk.

Broken Birdie

Ted Nugent Review- Who came 1st, Eddie or Ted?


Ted Nugent at HOB-Orlando
Ted Nugent at HOB-Orlando

Ted Nugent Orlando Concert Review

Attended the Ted Nugent concert last night at House of Blues for the 2nd time in 2 years and was pleasantly surprise. Last year, Ted was more of a politician, constantly complaining about the White House, freedom, liberty, etc., focusing more on politics than the music itself. This year was definitely more about the music.

Nugent is surrounded with a strong band.  The group was tight, the music on cue, and the moves well choreographed. You can tell that Mick Brown (drummer), Greg Smith (bass) and Derek St. Holmes (guitar) have been together for a while.  St. Holmes has been back with the band for a few years now, and does a fantastic job on vocals on many of the tracks, leaving Nugent to focus on his superb guitar-playing.

Sitting back and watching the packed crowd at HOB rocking to Uncle Ted was also an experience. Ted was a perfectionist in his sound and actions.  During the show, he realized that his guitar was not sounding just the way it should so he asked for the crew to change the equipment immediately just to get it right.  At 65, Ted still has what it takes to make his guitar sing.  This is what I wondered when listening to Ted.  Who developed their chops first, Ted Nugent or Eddie Van Halen? Both extremely talented guitarists, both professional and entertaining.  With Ted, what you see is what you get.  True hard core rock and roll.

Laura Wylde again opened the show and was a demon on stage, entertaining the crowd with excellent guitar and vocals.  The main set from Nugent lasted a little under 2 hours and the music was loud. Yes, Ted is a proud American and loves his roots and like he said, “this whole world sucks, but here in the US, it sucks a little less!” And, on this night with Uncle Ted, it was a nice escape for all in attendance.

Luc

Set List

 

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